Editor’s note for Monday, May 4, 2020

Dear Access member,

Three things you need to know today:

  • U.S.-China relations continue to deteriorate (see our top story below).
  • The city of Guangzhou is trying to repair China’s reputational damage in Africa and amongst China-resident African nationals with new anti-discrimination measures (see story 2 below).
  • Global stocks drop as U.S.-China tension flares reports the Financial Times (paywall).

A few things to think about:

A new report by a Chinese think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security —  the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) — warns that “Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation,” Reuters reports. Unlike many think tanks in China which exist to provide justification for, or elaborate on, existing government policies, CICIR’s mission is to tell the leadership what they may not want to hear about the international environment.

The report concludes that “global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown,” and that China “needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for armed confrontation” with the U.S. For more on the ever-worsening relationship between China and America, see our first story below.  

Meanwhile today at the White House, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, a former Beijing-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal, gave a speech in Mandarin addressed to the Chinese people and streamed via Zoom (video here, transcripts here in English and Chinese). He argued that universal values, much maligned in one of the seminal documents of the Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 era, were actually part of Chinese traditions, as epitomized by the May Fourth Movement, which is 101 years old today.

The speech is likely to confirm the Communist Party’s worst fears that the U.S. is bent on regime change.

Also this: “The verdict is in” on Chinese social media, reports Politico’s David Wertime: “China has outperformed, while the once-respected American system has disastrously faltered.”

This might be one reason why Australia will not suffer the consumer boycott threatened by Beijing’s man in Canberra last week. According to The Australian (paywall), “‘Marketers in China are already using Australia’s good performance [in handling COVID-19] to persuade parents of children who have been studying in the U.S. and the U.K. to look at Australia instead,’ says Chinese property portal Juwai.”

Our word of the day is China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations: 中国现代国际关系研究院 zhōngguó xiàndài guójì guānxi yánjiūyuàn).

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief